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Charles Gaselee was born in 1846 in Camberwell,
South London. His father was a doctor but Charles gave up the idea of pursuing medicine as a career befor he left school and instead joined the firm of Messrs. Brown Shipley who were East Indian merchants dealing mainly in tea. The tea which arrived in London was discharged into barges belonging to William Wrightson, who Charles met in the course of business and subsequently left Brown Shipley to assist Wrightson in the running of his lighterage business. In 1871 the company Wrightson and Gaselee was formed.  When Wrightsons son came into the business Gaselee decided to leave the partnership and set up in business himself, and in 1879 acquired his first tug, Wasp.
Over the next eight years Gaselee built up a fleet of five tugs, used mainly for towing barges between the Royal Albert Dock and
London wharves. Firms who used his services included Union Lighterage, Perkins and Homer, Page and East, Macdougal and Bonthron, E. W. Taylor and Rank. A limited amount of ship towage was also carried out, mainly for the General Steam Navigation Company and MacAndrews Limited. During the 1880’s Charles was in partnership with his brother in law Howard Welch, but this did not last very long and from 1894 until 1902 he was joined by his son in law George Gush.  In 1890 he had purchased two larger tugs and entered the field of ‘seeking’. He also purchased Barkers barge roads off Hays Wharf. In 1894 Tower Bridge was opened and the Corporation of London asked Gaselee to provide a tug on standby duties to assist any ships in difficulty  to navigate through the bridge and Gaselee provided this vessel for many, many years. In 1896 his son Herbert joined the company. About this time an increasing amount of work involved the towing of barges laden with pulp and finished paper products to and from the paper mills on the Swale at Ridham Dock.
The launch tug Lee was purchased specifically to carry deck loads of boxes of live eels from Canvey to Billingsgate Market whilst also towing Dutch eel fishing boats up to the Market. This operation lasted until 1896. Another venture was the purchase and operation of hopper barges, mainly in connection with dredging in
East India Docks but all were disposed of by 1905.
Charles Gaselee died in 1919, leaving Herbert to run the company.
In 1928 Auriol Gaselee, Herberts son, joined the company and in 1933 Aboma became the first diesel tug owned by the company. 1935 saw the formation of Gaselee and Son Ltd., with directors H S & A S Gaselee. During World War 2 several of the company tugs were taken up for war service, some staying locally to the Thames but others serving in Scotland and at Liverpool. Herbert Gaselee died in 1954.
1-5-1965 saw the four tugs most used for Thames and Medway ship handling sold to Ship Towage [London] Ltd for £150,000 which left six tugs available for lighterage work. On 30th August 1966 the company amalgamated with J P Knight Ltd to form Gaselee and Knight Ltd but barge traffic was still dwindling and in 1970 Gaselee's withdrew from the venture, selling their share of the business to Knight's, although Gaselee and Knight continued trading until August 1973.
Sauria, Gaselee's largest tug had appeared in 1968, being based at Felixstowe, which the Directors  had correctly seen as a rapidly expanding port. Controlled by Gaselee and Son [Felixstowe] Ltd, a company in which London Tugs had 4200 shares, she continued to work at the port, passing into the ownership of Alexandra Towing [Felixstowe] Ltd in 1975. This was the end of Gaselee as tug operators and Auriol died in 1987.






Photo Daniel Lane.

 Built 1933 by Cochrane & Sons Ltd., Selby.  YN 1114. Screw tug. L75’. B17’. D8.6’. 67grt. 390bhp 6cyl British Polar diesel engine. ON163375.
26-5-1933 Launched. 24-7-1933 Delivered to Gaselee and Son Ltd., London. Cost £6650. 1967 Transferred to Gaselee and Knight Ltd. 1968 Sold to Scrapping SA, Antwerp for scrapping for £650.

Built 1906 by Jonker and Stans,
Dordrecht. Screw tug. L69’2”. B16.5’. D8.3’. 54grt. 250ihp 2cyl compound. ON123771.
1907 Delivered to Gaselee. Built for £3125.
17-7-1907 SS Southwold Belle collided with craft in tow of tug off Victoria Dock entrance. 2-1918 Req by Admiralty and based Inverness to tow barges through Caledonian Canal. 9-1919 Returned to Owners. 31-12-1937 Explosion on board killed engineer Mr Price, whilst moored at Victoria Dock entrance. 1947 Scrapped.


Photog unknown.

Built 1937 by Alexander Hall & Co Ltd.,  Aberdeen. YN 659. Screw tug. L77.5’. B21’. D10’. 84grt. 500bhp 4cyl British Polar diesel engine. ON165431.
12-2-1937 Launched. 1937 Delivered to Gaselee & Son Ltd., London.  Cost £10500.  21-7-1966 Towed pirate radio ship Cheetah II into Harwich after her anchors dragged in heavy weather. 1967 Transferred to Gaselee and Knight Ltd. 1970 Scrapped at Bloors Wharf, Rainham Kent..


Built 1910 by Cochranes Ltd., Selby. L75.2’. B21.2’. D9.6’. 91grt. 400ihp 3cyl TE steam engine by Earles Ltd.,
Hull. ON129137.
1910 Delivered to Gaselee & Son Ltd.,
London. Cost £4274.  1914 Req by  UK Admiralty for service in Le Havre and Dieppe . 3-1920 Returned to Thames. 6-5-1932 Collided with and slightly damaged Battersea bridge. 6-4-1938 Collided with SS Nordmark off Surrey Docks. 1947 Scrapped.




Mooring Hulk
Built 1944 by Goole SB and Repairing Co Ltd., YN421. L142.2’. B27’. D8.5’. 410grt. 7cyl 4SA oil engine by Blackstone and Co.,
Stamford. ON180123.
9-1944 Completed for MoWT,
London, named Empire Fane. GSN Co Ltd., London appointed managers. 4-1946 Owners Ministry of Transport, London. 7-1946 Sold to F T Everard and Sons Ltd, London, renamed Fluidity. 5-1956 Re-engined 6cyl 2SA oil engine by Newbury Diesel Co Ltd., Newbury. 12-1969 Engine removed and vessel sold to Gaselee and Son Ltd., London [£1000] for use as mooring hulk. Renamed Apar and deleted from LR. 13-11-1973 Arrived at T W Ward Ltd., Grays, for scrapping.
Built 1959 by Thurston and Woodall Ltd., Bow. Launch tug. L36.4'. B10.2'. D4.5'. 11grt. 110bhp. 6cyl Russell Newberry Diesel engine. ON300826.
1959 Delivered to Gaselee and Son Ltd.,
London. 1965 Owners Gaselee & Son (Towage) Ltd., London. 1970 Owners Gaselee & Knight Ltd., London. 198? Sold to Norman Keedy & Sons Ltd., Cleadon. 1987 Sold to Tyne Towage Ltd., Dunston-on-Tyne. 2002 Sold to unknown owner, renamed Team Spirit.



Launch Tug.

Built 1943 at Brightlingsea. L44.4'. B10.1'. D6'. 20grt. 88bhp Diesel engine. ON185880.

195? Acquired from Perkins and Homer Ltd.  1957 Owners F G Towage Ltd., London. 31-3-1958 Sank whilst towing barge in Swatchway. Salved and returned to service. 1975 Owners Newry Port and Harbour Trust.

Photo B Hunt colln.

Built 1892 by Ellis and Summers  Ltd.,  Gloucester. L67.6’. B16.2’. D8’. 54grt. 50nhp 2cyl compound steam engine by builder. ON101946.

1892 Delivered to Charles E. Gaselee, London. Cost £2900. 1919 Owner Herbert S. Gaselee London. 10-5-1934 Arrived T W Ward Ltd., Grays, for scrapping.

Photog unknown




Mooring Hulk

Built 1917 at Richborough, Kent. L124.1’. B16.4’. D7.2’. 140grt. ON146990

1925[by] Owner Henry J Beazley, Southampton. 1928 Sold to  Gaselee and Son Ltd., London. [PoR Southampton.] 1945 Scrapped.

Much modified, Photo taken 2010 by Alan Chapman.
Photo Alan Barnes.

Built 1959 by J W Cook and Sons Ltd, Wivenhoe. 11grt. 180bhp Gardner diesel engine. ON301029.

1959 Delivered to Gaselee and Son Ltd, London. 1967 Owners Gaselee and Knight Ltd., London. 1987 Sold to Mike Devlin (Tyne Towage Ltd), Dunston-on-Tyne renamed Myboa. 19?? Owner Rob Chandler. 19?? Owner ? Henderson, River Medway. 1998 Owner Thameslink Marine, London. 2003 Sold to Paul Wilson, Cherry Garden Pier, London. 2005 Sank at Cherry Garden Pier. Later salved. 4-2006 Sold to AAP (Tugs) Ltd., Rainham Kent, renamed Boa. 2009 Reengined 150bhp Daewoo diesel. 2010 Still in existence.


Photo B Hunt colln

Built 1924 by Alexander Hall & Co Ltd., Aberdeen. YN 592. L80’. B21.6’. D10.5’. 105grt. 68nhp 3cylTE 13”x21.3”x35”x24”s steam engine by builder. ON147721.

9-1924 Delivered to Gaselee & Sons Ltd., London. 17-1-1957 Arrived at  T.W. Ward Ltd., Grays, for scrapping.



Photo Rays colln

Built 1958 by F. Schichau AG., Bremerhaven. L80.4’. B21.6’. D10’. 97grt. 660bhp 8cyl Deutz diesel engine. ON187697.

1958 Delivered to Gaselee and Son Ltd., London. Tall hinged funnel for 'under bridges' work. 1-5-1965 Sold to Ship Towage [London] Ltd. 1965 Low 'motor' funnel fitted. 27-1-1969 Transferred to London Tugs Ltd. 12-1971 Sold to J G Efthimou, Piraeus, Greece, renamed Atromitos. Greek flag, official no. 2010. 198? Sold to Pelion Maritime Co., Volos. Greek flag, official no. 580. Call sign SV2893. 2005 Still in service.

Three photo's of CULEX under construction in 1957. All photo's © J Weller colln.



Built 1961  by J.W. Cook & Co (Wivenhoe) Ltd., Wivenhoe. YN 1213. L42.5’. B11’. D6.3’. 14grt. 110bhp 6cyl Russell-Newbury diesel engine. ON302644

1961 Delivered to F.G. Towage Ltd., London.  1965 Transferred to Gaselee & Son (Towage) Ltd., London. 1966 Transferred to Gaselee & Knight Ltd., London. 197? Sold to Darling Brothers Ltd., London, renamed Smudge. 19?? Owners Hastings Brothers.,  Brentford. 2002?  Owners Eel Pie Island Slipways., Twickenham, renamed Dancha.




Ex RAF refuelling launch  converted to launch tug. Possibly one of batch RAF1172-1174 or RAF1176-1180

Built 1930 by J Samuel White and Co.,  Cowes. L41'. B9.4'. D4.4'. 13grt. Original engine unknown  ON187560.

1930 Delivered to Royal Air Force. 1937 Reengined 114bhp 6cyl AEC diesel engine.14-5-1957 First registration. 1957? Puchased by F G Towage Ltd., Greenwich. 1973 Owners F G Towage Ltd., London. [Gaselee & Knight]




Built 1886 by  Newall Ltd., Bristol. Designed by James Pollock Ltd, London, ship number 23. L66.8’. B13.6’. D7’. 40grt. 40nhp 2cyl 12"x26"x18" compound steam engine. Boiler 8'8"dia x 9'6". 100psi. ON91918.

1887 Delivered to Charles Gaselee, London27-10-1921  £200 salvage award for assistance to collision damaged SS Mitcham in Limehouse Reach.  1926 Sold M Isaacs for scrap


 Photog unknown

Built 1957 by P K Harris Ltd., Appledore. YN68. Launch tug. L45’. B12.2' D4.1' 13grt. 110bhp 6cyl AEC 7.60 2-stroke diesel engine. ON187590.

1958 Delivered to F G Towage Ltd., London [Gaselee and Son Ltd]. 3-1965 Gaselee & Son (Towage) Ltd. 3-1970   Owned by Gaselee & Knight Ltd., London. 1970 Owned by J. P. Knight Ltd. 1973 Owners Gaselee and Knight Ltd., London.  19?? Sold to Environment Agency, renamed Colne Brook and transferred to River Trent. 19?? Owner Kevin Mason, Newark-on-Trent, renamed Seventy Six. . 2017[c] Owner Hughes Marine, Hull renamed BJ. 8-2021 Still in existence, offered for sale near York as Efgee.



Mooring Hulk

1945 Acquired by Gaselee and Son Ltd., and moored off Morton’s Wharf, Limehouse.  20-2-1961 Arrived at  T W Ward Ltd, Grays, for scrapping.


Abandoned on the beach at Dunkirk. Photo D Brennan colln.

Built 1929  by Alexander Hall & Co Ltd., Aberdeen. YN 619. L80’. B21.6’. D10’. 105grt. 500ihp 3cylTE 13"x21.5"x35"x24"s steam engine by builder. ON161295.

30-8-1929 Launched. 1929 Delivered to Gaselee & Son Ltd., London31-10-1939 Req by  Admiralty. 2-6-1940 Abandoned at Dunkirk after stranding on beach whilst assisting in evacuation. Later salved by Germans and allocated to Port Commandant, Dunkirk, No further trace.



Built 1946 by Cochrane & Sons Ltd., Selby. YN 1316. L75.5’. B17.1’. D7.2’. 66grt. 450bhp 6cyl British Polar M461 diesel engine. ON180906.

5-3-1946 Launched. 7-1946 Delivered to Gaselee & Son Ltd., London. 1960 Sold to Humphery & Grey (Lighterage) Ltd., London, renamed Owen  Smith. 1977 Re-engined with Caterpillar diesel.  1983 Sold to Wm. Mayhew, renamed Fossa. 1991 Registration  cancelled. 2020 Still in existence at Chelsea as houseboat.



Photo Rays colln


Built 1961 by Henry Scarr Ltd., Hessle. Screw Tug. YN775. L85'9''. B21'6''. D10'9''. 98grt. 1000bhp 8cyl SBV8M545 Deutz diesel engine. Acquired 1965. Disposed 1975. Official No. 302599.

1961 Built for Gaselee and Son Ltd., London. 1-5-1965 Sold to Ship Towage [London] Ltd. 27-1-1969 Transferred to London Tugs Ltd. 1-1-1975 Owners Alexandra Towing Co. [London] Ltd. 7-1977 Sold to Darling Bros. Ltd., London renamed Kilda. 1987 Sold to Bennett Bros., renamed Mamba. 1990 Company restyled Medway Lighterage Co Ltd. 2002 Sold to Simon Bradley, converted to houseboat at Port Werburgh, River Medway. 200? Sold to Aaron Hammond. 2003 For sale. 2006 Still at Hoo St Werburgh.


Launch tug acquired from H W Webster.

GNAT [1]

 Built 1888 by Edward Wales, Hull. Iron. L59.9’ B14.1'. D7.4'. 38grt. 2cyl compound steam engine by builder. 30nhp. ON95488. 

1888 Delivered to Joseph Constant, London named Hero. 1888 Acquired by Charles Edward Gaselee, London, renamed Gnat30-7-1897 Suffered stern and rail damage following collision with SS Volante in Northfleet Hope. Later beached at Northfleet for repairs. 18?? Transferred to Gaselee & Sons Ltd.,London. 1898 Sold to S Pearson and Co.,  London. 8-1914 Req for Admiralty service. 1914 Sold to Joseph Constant, London. 1914 Sold to R E V James Ltd, Southampton. 1918 Transferred to James Dredging, Towage and Transport ltd., London.  5-1919 Returned to owners. 1919 Sold to  G Alder, Middlesborough. 1920 Sold to Consett Iron Co Ltd., Newcastle. 1930 Scrapped by J J King Ltd, Gateshead.

GNAT [2]

Photo G  Lane colln.

Built 1898 by Dundee Shipbuilding Co., Dundee. YN117. L72.6’. B18.4’. D9.6’. 79grt. 80nhp 2cyl compound steam engine by White and Mair Ltd. ON109964.

3-6-1898 Launched. 1898 Delivered to Charles Gaselee, London. Cost £3875. Transferred to Gaselee and Son Ltd.  25-1-1934 Sank at Tilbury whilst towing five barges following collision in thick fog with German SS August Cords. Master [Capt P Jones] and Engineer drowned. Later raised and scrapped. 10-5-1934 Arrived T W Ward Ltd, Grays, for scrapping. 

GNAT [3]

Built 1934 by Cochrane and Sons Ltd., Selby. L75’. B17’. D8.6’. 66grt. 390bhp 6cyl Atlas Polar diesel engine. ON163529.

1934 Delivered to Gaselee & Son Ltd, London. Cost £6993. 1968 Sold to Mr Henry, Waterford.


Photo taken 201? and copyright to C Williams
Built 1931 by J Samuel White and Co.,  Cowes. L41.2'. B9.4'. D4.4'. 13grt. Original engine unknown. ON187396.
1931 Delivered to Royal Air Force. 1937 Reengined 114bhp 6cyl AEC diesel engine.10-3-1956 First registration. 1957 Sold to  F G Towage Ltd. [Acquired in 1954 by Gaselee and Son Ltd]. 1962 Sold to H Brazier Ltd, Hertford.  1966 Sold to  G Dew & Co Ltd., Oldham. 2015 In private ownership at Loughborough Leics.
Ex RAF refuelling launch  converted to launch tug. Possibly one of batch RAF1172-1174 or RAF1176-1180